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Lauren McCluskey was killed on the University of Utah campus on October 22, 2018 by Melvin Rowland. (Photo: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah)
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Report Finds Officer Displayed, Commented Inappropriately On McCluskey Photos

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Authorities on Wednesday released the findings of an independent investigation into a former officer’s alleged use of evidence in the Lauren McCluskey case.

Miguel Deras, former University of Utah Department of Public Safety officer, was accused of saving extortion photos of Lauren McCluskey to his mobile phone. He was also accused of making inappropriate comments about the photos to a co-worker.

The UUDPS in May announced the Utah Department of Public Safety would conduct an independent investigation.

The investigation found there was no evidence that Deras inappropriately downloaded the explicit photos of McCluskey.

According to the attorney for officer Miguel Deras, the report proves that his client did nothing wrong.

“The report confirms exactly what we stated months ago; that Miguel Deras only showed these photographs during an official investigation, and for a law enforcement purpose,” said J.C. Jensen, who represents Deras. “Our assertion was also proven that he never downloaded them to his phone, he never saved them.”

However, the investigation did find evidence that “a small number of officers inappropriately commented on the photos before, during or immediately after a shift change briefing,” according to a statement from UUDPS Chief Rodney Chatman.

“Although the date cannot be confirmed, at some point after the afore-mentioned briefing, Officer Deras showed the images to three officers (who had already seen the photos),” according to the DPS investigation summary. “… Officers [redacted] told DPS IA they remember this happening in the hallway outside of the conference room where briefings take place. Officers [redacted] remember hearing some unprofessional comments being made when the pictures were displayed.”

“This type of behavior is not acceptable in my department and will not be tolerated,”  Chatman said.

Chatman plans to take action against officers accused of viewing photos outside of the investigation and making comments.

“Behaviors that were articulated in this report are less than professional behavior and anything less than professional behavior falls very short for my expectations. It’s something I take very seriously because I need to have the trust in my officers, and they need to trust me and where trust is broken it’s serious to me,” he said. “We are in the business right now where we are trying to establish trust with our community,”

“While employment actions are confidential, it is important that the university community understands we are pursuing action against individual officers based on the findings in this report,” according to Chatman. “As our new mission statement makes clear: We seek public trust by policing with compassion, integrity and accountability in our daily pursuit of excellence. We nurture public trust by holding ourselves to the highest standards.”

McCluskey was murdered in October 2018 by her ex-boyfriend. Days before her killing, she had reported to the police that he was using the compromising photos to extort her.

McCluskey’s parents released the following statement Wednesday afternoon: “The University of Utah continues to mislead, cover up the facts, and fail to take responsibility for the murder of our daughter. We now call for the University of Utah to redo its incomplete and disingenuous investigation and for an independent review of the facts surrounding Lauren’s murder and the University’s failure to respond to her pleas for help.”

Read the Utah Department of Public Safety’s summary report here.

The Logan Police Department also released a statement on the investigation.

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